Dress Your Area with Violets

In our yard we are letting violets cover the ground. They have green heart-shaped leaves, and are an early flowering thing. I think this spring was the best year we’ve had with the violets so far. For a few weeks I was fascinated every time I walked by them. I can put my hand in them and feel like it is buried. Little bugs have been hanging out in the low shade they make, under the leaves. I don’t know what the bugs are called, but they are interesting to watch.

 

Violets1

Violets, native to Minnesota, make gorgeous ground cover.

We have been happily phasing out the grass. Kentucky bluegrass is not that good at supporting a healthy world. It is not native (unlike common violets, which are native to Minnesota), so bugs and other bio-life are not keen on making it a home. 

Compared to other prairie plants, the root system of Kentucky bluegrass is very, very, shallow. Because of this, the Kentucky bluegrass is not as good at storing carbon, preventing erosion, or absorbing rain water. And speaking of water, many people use a lot of it on lawn grass. Also, I think lawn grass can get confused with sidewalks because sometimes I see sprinklers used to water the cement.

Sadly, a lot of fossil fuel is used to cut grass. It’s sad because in order to get the fossil fuel, large machines fracture the earth, and they use even more water when they do that. They also drill the floors of the oceans and turn all of the coral white. Coral goes white when it’s dead––I learned so when I visited an aquarium one time.

It is predicted that in the year 2050, only thirty years from now, all the world’s coral will be gone. 

Strawberry

Strawberries are not violets, but like violets they can go in your yard. They make flowers and food.

I think the flowers of the violets are beautiful, and so do a lot of grateful local pollinators. I can see bees bouncing on them. 

Ants love to eat the violet seeds. So do mice and doves. Caterpillars and rabbits will eat their leaves. It spreads like a wonderful weed and makes a joyful ground-cover. From above I imagine it looks like the flag of a new society. It seems to prefer the shade, like me!

In a pretend scenario where you were asking for my advice, I would say, “My friend, give me a high-five and let the ground where you live cover itself with violets.”

 

The logo for streets dot mn but it's a flower. Climate @ streets dot mn.

Editor’s note: This article is part of our Climate Committee’s on-going “The City That Eats Together” event.

“We’re hoping to bring together stories and resources that cover the wide range of topics around what and how we eat in cities, as well as historical perspectives and future dreams.”

“In particular, knowing that food insecurity within systems built on white supremacy is felt first and worst by those who are disenfranchised, colonized, and marginalized, and that urban food sovereignty has been criminalized, we hope to elevate the work being done within and by communities of color.”

Want to join this event? You can sign up to be a writer and share your story.

Streets.mn is a non-profit and is volunteer run. We rely on your support to keep the servers running. If you value what you read, please consider becoming a member.

, , , , ,

4 Responses to Dress Your Area with Violets

  1. Fred Kreider June 10, 2020 at 2:42 pm #

    A lovely post, Kyle.

    It was not until earlier this year I learned that Violets are a host plant for beneficial insects and butterflies, and looking at our yard, I wish we had more.
    I’m currently in the process of changing our planted retaining wall from Hostas to native perennials, and just today while weeding I was sure to leave all the violets because as you mentioned, their heart-shaped leaves are unmistakable!

    Thank you again.

  2. Dave Carlson June 10, 2020 at 3:44 pm #

    Yes, I have been letting the wild violets “encroach” into the yard a little more every year and this year they all grew very well and flowered nicely. They grow especially well on the shady small hill I have in the backyard. Also nice is that their thick cover generally doesn’t allow weeds to grow among them, just an occasional early wild flox may pop through, so they are very low maintenance.

  3. Ian Young June 10, 2020 at 6:36 pm #

    Other points in favor of violets: they do well in everything from full sun to full shade, and they are free if you just wait for them to come to you!

    Violets still aren’t welcome in my vegetable garden, but this year instead of killing them I’ve been digging them up and transplanting them to the fenceline in area of my yard dedicated to native plants. Given a bit of time, they should fill in around the taller native plants and suppress non-native weeds, a win for me as I will do less weeding and mulching, and a win for pollinators who need those early spring food sources.

  4. Pat Thompson June 10, 2020 at 8:30 pm #

    Yes, I love the native white violets! Their little purple stripes at the throat are landing strips for pollinators. When people ask what will grow in shade under maples or pine trees, I always say… white violets.

    They are also edible. The young leaves and flower buds can be used raw or cooked. They have a mild flavor when boiled as greens, they’re best mixed with stronger tasting leaves. They can be used to thicken soups. Flowers can also be eaten raw.

Note on Comments

streets.mn welcomes opinions from many perspectives. Please refrain from attacking or disparaging others in your comments. streets.mn sees debate as a learning opportunity. Please share your perspective in a respectful manner. View our full comment policy to learn more.

Thanks for commenting on streets.mn!